A Publication of


Founded 8th May 1999

Newsletter No.38 May 2000
The first anniversary of the Society and the one hundred and fifty second of JMF's birth! We are pleased to welcome our eighteenth member, gained through the Internet. I hope you find this third Newsletter interesting and it stimulates some of you to write in - either with comments, or anecdotes, or, particularly welcome, with short articles.
The Divinity House, Durham

A Pot Pouri

Recently, I came across David Cecil's Library Looking-Glass: A Personal Anthology, published by Constable in 1975. He says in his foreword that "nothing has been included here, however interesting its subject matter, which does not also give me pleasure". He includes, on pages 134-135, John Meade Falkner's "After Trinity" and pens the following:

This agreeable poem was written at least sixty years ago. But, alike
in subject and spirit and manner it is so like the work of Sir John
Betjeman that any literary historian might take for granted that its
author had had a direct and major influence on it. In fact Sir John
has only come across Meade Falkner's poems in later life and long
after his own work had achieved its characteristic form.
This should teach literary historians to beware of laying down the
law about influences.

There is a short article in The Thomas Hardy Journal Volume IV Number I (February 1993) by Stephen Derry, entitled "John Meade Falkner's use of Desperate Remedies and A Laodicean in The Nebuly Coat". Derry draws certain parallels - such as the importance of railway timetables in the unravelling of both plots and "the interaction of the historic past with the present".

In 1994, George Ramsden of Stone Trough Books published his Catalogue Six under the title "Oxford Associations". Fifteen items were for sale relating to John Meade Falkner, including a copy of Bath in History and Social Tradition, which had been inscribed by JMF to G.H. Gair and had an ALS (dated 8.4.1918) laid down on the front paste-down:
Here is the little book. Yes, do see Bath. My grandfather had a
house there which is still mine though now unfortunately let.
Bath is an imperial place and "never forgets the Palace whence
she came."
Another item for sale was the reminiscences from a woman living in Beverley, East Yorkshire, who, with her husband, knew Meade Falkner for more than thirty years. She recounts JMF saying to her about the Minster:
I come here for rest and refreshment for my soul. In all Europe there is no more perfect harmony in architecture than here in Beverley Minster, and I pay tribute to the power of God and the inspiration of the workmen of bygone centuries.
However, the most interesting item is copied below, I wonder who bought it?!

This is a trainspotting journal that JMF started in 1874. Illustrated is one of 170 pages filled with his classifications of trains seen on The South Western Railway.

John Meade Falkner in the NATIONAL PRESS

In The Daily Telegraph for Saturday, 26 February 2000, Christopher Somerville wrote a travel piece on Portland, under the heading 'Written in the Stone'. After describing, at some length, the atmospheric Chesil Beach, Somerville - "slogging along the ridge" - reached Fleet. He mentioned the great storm of 23 November 1824 and went on
The chancel of old Fleet church still stands, reconstructed as a chapel.
Among venerable brasses to the local landowning Mohun family I
found a memorial to John Meade Falkner, who immortalised the place
in his smuggler thriller Moonfleet. Stamping on the stone-flagged floor,
I thought I could hear a faint echo. It was in the Mohun vault beneath
the chancel that the young hero of Moonfleet, John Trenchard, was
trapped by smugglers - a passage that kept me awake through a nail-
biting night's reading in childhood."
As long ago as last August, The Independent Magazine in its series "Who? What? Where? had a photograph of JMF for the "Who?", Elswick for the What? and Chesil Beach for the "Where?" Asking for the links. The question was set by Christopher Hawtree.
Christopher is also responsible for the column "Words" in The Independent and has managed to squeeze more than one reference to JMF into the text. Under the word

Meiosis, n.,

Two articles by John Meade Falkner on Boer War field-guns compensate
for the loss of his fourth novel, in the style of Moonfleet. The subject
sounds dry as dust, but he displays elegant subversion: "British 'reverses
(an ingenuous meiosis, for our enemies' mishaps were always plain defeats
or routs) had to be accounted for on any supposition other than the
incapacity of our leaders."
Greek for lessening, it is a 16th-century coining, but soon after Falkner's
articles became a term for the division and fertilisation of cells. My piece
on him is available from moonfleet@greenmantle63.freeserve

John Meade Falkner on the INTERNET

The Society has already benefited greatly in two ways from the Internet. Firstly, Robert Wilson,[rjbw@shaw.ca] grandson of Charles Gaskell Falkner (JMF's brother) already had a section on his Website: "JMFalkner.html" - "John Meade Falkner Photographs & Biography" - before the Society was established. Robert has since kindly included Newsletters I and 2, as well as Christopher Hawtree's two articles on the site. There are 11 photographs, ranging from a portrait aged 10 to the tomb at Burford, and short sections on "His Beginnings and His Family", "His Education", His First Employment", "His Business Careeer", "His Marriage", "His Career as a Writer" and "His Retirement". Robert took much of his material from Kenneth Warren's biography and pamphlet on JMF in Durham and Bernard Jones' pamphlet in the 'Dorset Worthies' series.

Robert received, in December 1999, an unusual e-mail from Jan Peche of Teaneck, New Jersey, praising the site and reminiscing about'Moonfleet' - "It was and is one of my dearest novels from childhood. I read it some 30 years ago in Warsaw, Poland in a Polish translation and under a little changed title 'The Diamond of Mohoon"'. Jan ended - "And I play backgammon too. Included in the Polish edition was a forwarding motto comparing backgammon and life......" It would be good to hear from Jan again - we need new members!

Secondly, through membership of The Alliance of Literary Societies, we are on their Web Page - http://www.sndc.demon.co.uk/als.htm. It gives basic details about the Society and provides a link to Robert Wilson's pages as well as an e-text of The Lost Stradivarius.

[A strictly unauthorised note from RJBW: e-text of Moonfleet is available at Bibliomania, the Classic Fiction section. ( http://www.bibliomania.com )]

Moreover, if one gets on to the Amazon.com book site and searches for JMF, you not only find that Moonfleet can be shipped to you within 4-6 weeks for $2.25 + $2.85 special surcharge, but there are two customer reviews! Under the heading 'A great treasure-adventure yarn. Read it and love it.', mthtch@juno.com from Columbus, Ohio, said, "I happened onto this book by chance 30 years ago. It quickly became one of my prized possessions. After reading it several times, I passed it on to my oldest son and it became his favorite too ... You will fall in love with this book..."
Reviewer happydaisy@geocities.com e-mailed - "I recently purchased this bookfrom Amazon because It reminds me of fond childhood memories. When I was young, my mother read this book to me when I was ill. It's still the best memory I have of my youth .... The imagery is wonderful, and it is a book you can share with anyone. It's a classic. P.S. I bought this book for my Mom for Mother's Day."

Finally, we have gained another member through the Internet. Jeffry Pretes from San Francisco, e-mailed me in March for further information about the Society. Jeffry says The Nebuly Coat is one of his favourite books. He can be e-mailed on ormond@excitecom

John Meade Falkner Associated Sites

I am moving slowly towards a gazetteer of JW associated sites. Line- drawing postcards can be had from three churches linked to him.

Moonfleet, DorsetWool-Bale tombs in Churchyard
Burford, Oxfordshire
Buckland Ripers, Dorset

The 'Moonfleet' cards can be purchased at the little church itself, as can the other two at their respective churches. The Burford card is published by 'Friends of Burford Church'. Please support all three buildings if you can.
If we become a large enough group, one aim will be to see how best to support any/all of these churches (as well as that at Manningford Bruce, Wiltshire) and draw attention to the links with JMF.

On 9 January 1888, JMF sent a telegram to the Noble household at Jesmond, having forgotten to say goodbye to a young lady:
Lady Noble replied in similar vein!

I hope to bring out the first JOURNAL with the fourth Newsletter in July. So far, Peter Davey has sent me the transcript of his article first printed in the Dorset Magazine - "JMF: The Lost Stradivarius"; Raymond Moody has promised me a piece on "Meade Falkner in Burford Today"; and Christopher Hawtree intends another article - on JMF and Nicholas O'Connor, British ambassador in Constantinople until 1908. Any more?!

Kenneth Hillier
Greenmantle, Ingles Hill, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leics LE65 2TF
Tel.:01530 416969
e-mail - moonfleet@greenmantle63.freeserve.co.uk

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Uploaded 06 May 2000